jay's old blog

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Thank you to my mentor - Mika

I would like to think of myself as a generally smart guy. Yeah, self appreciation is frowned upon but I can be objective (I think) about myself and yes, I think I am smart (but I do dumb stuff. My students can tell a dozen stories about how I have done the silliest of mistakes over the years since they work so closely with me) and that has helped me a lot.

To be more specific, I am the kind of guy who, if shown the direction (or even a tiny hint of direction), I can find the rest of my way through the worst possible and dangerous and ludicrous jungle (as in problems). It is this ability of mine that has helped me become a good (if not the greatest) developer and also helped me a lot whenever I face challenges when working as a trainer.

Okay, is this post about praising my mentor or myself?

The thing is, although I am smart, I still need to find that direction (or that hint of direction). It's always like that with solving problems. The starting point, the 'right' starting point is all it takes to find a solution. Sometimes, all available starting points lead to a solution. The distinction between them is that some starting points are better than others.

And that is where my mentor comes into the picture. His name is Mika Varjonen. He is awesome. He is patient. He is an incredible human being. More importantly, he is patient (I already said that didn’t I but he is worth second mentions) and if an apocalypse were to strike earth, I know that there is one other human being (other than my elite study nildana students) on whom I can count on to take on the zombies and restore balance to earth!

I met Mika back in 2013. When I say met, its not a face to face meeting or a social gathering interaction. There was this game. It was called 'Galactic Reign'. The game was an online turn based game, not so different than Civilization or to some extent chess. I met mika on a random online match, and we ended up using Xbox Live chat system to interact. I would constantly beat him (sorry mika. I had to mention this) but he would not react angrily or even get upset. He would immediately come back for a rematch with no hard feelings of any kind. Like I have said before, he is a super cool guy.

Eventually, the game itself died but our friendship continued. I found he was a Microsoft developer and my livelihood was .NET, and I asked him if he could help. This was how we really hit it on. He was a super awesome developer and I was but a (hopefully humble) learner. I knew some stuff but in front of him, I literally knew nothing.

From then, since now, I must have been stuck constantly while working as a developer and a trainer. Yes, I am smart (again, with the self appreciation. Come on Jay, what's wrong with you!) but I still find that 'starting point' I have talked about. Like most developers I use a combination of memory, experience, online sources (stackoverflow, msdn, msdn social, blogs) to find that 'starting point'.

That is where mika comes in. You see, if I were to weigh mika on one side (not literally of course :P) and all the other resources on the other side, mika still outweighs them 100 to 1. He is like this incredible library of knowledge and experience. Whenever I get stuck (and I will admit I get stuck) I consult with him and he immediately shows me that starting point. Of course, there are times when he actually comes along with me through the jungle on some really tricky and rare scenarios.

That means, if today I am doing well as a professional, I would like to chalk that to his help. It won’t be wrong to say that he has played a major role in shaping my thought process. That's not it. The technology world is constantly changing (if I had a rupee every time someone wrote that!) and I like and I do keep up. However, mika has a foresight that I am still developing. He can tell me where I should be next career wise, and most of the time, he ends up being right.

Further, the knowledge he passes on to me, I pass on to my study nildana students. While he is my mentor, he is a surrogate mentor to each and every member at study nildana. In addition to this, he has a full time job, a family and lots of other responsibilities. Not to forget the time difference between India and Finland. Despite all this, he somehow finds the time to help me.

Lastly, I like to talk about technology. I like to discuss technology because it is fascinating. There is a certain joy that comes by talking about, discussing company strategies, breakthroughs and extinction of tech that is past its prime. As a developer from India, I have no access to such individuals. My work colleagues and friends (many are software developers) are pretty cool folks but they simply don’t discuss and disperse technology. This is not a complaint but rather an observation. However, I am convinced that the world gets better when people talk to each other, meet and discuss. Worlds aren't built by being quiet. They are built by people who get together, meet, greet and discuss positively.

So, Mika. I take this opportunity to thank you. I hope, that I am good mentee and I hope, someday I will be able to repay what you have done for me. Of course, that is impossible as I am already, eternally in debt for your mentorship.

Thanks again man.

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